Public support mixed on safe injection sites in Saskatoon

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WATCH ABOVE: Poll suggests Saskatonians are against a safe injection site for drug users – Jan 18, 2017

Saskatoon residents are divided on the topic of a safe injection site for intravenous drugs in the city.

Of those surveyed, 41 per cent of people oppose a safe injection site, while 38 per cent support one, according to a poll from Mainstreet/Postmedia.

READ MORE: Edmonton councillors to discuss safe-injection sites

Marie Agioritis’ son Kelly Best died of a fentanyl overdose in January 2015. She now advocates for early drug education, the overdose-reversal drug naloxone and harm reduction strategies.

“Do I think safe injection sites work? Absolutely they do. Is that the right choice for our community right now? I don’t know,” Agioritis said.

She said the public needs greater awareness of drugs, the number of people suffering overdoses and what safe injection sites look like.

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“What a safe injection site is – is a place where people who are addicted go to get clean needles in a safe environment,” she said.

“If they overdose, what’s in place there can help them.”

AIDS Saskatoon and its executive director, Jason Mercredi, support safe places to facilitate intravenous drug use staffed by medical professionals

“You can’t push too hard. A lot of times you open up the doors and people will step in,” Mercredi said.

“If getting people off drugs was as simple as telling them ‘stop doing drugs,’ we wouldn’t have the rates we have.”

READ MORE: Saskatchewan HIV rates: ‘We’re going to be facing a catastrophe’

The Mainstreet/Postmedia poll also asked respondents if they have been “following the story of Fentanyl, an opiod drug.”

Thirty-five per cent of Saskatoon respondents said they are following the issue “very closely” or “somewhat closely.” Forty-seven per cent said they’re following it “not too closely” or “not at all closely.”

The random sample of 600 Saskatoon residents was conducted Jan. 3-4 and has a margin of error of plus or minus four per cent, 19 times out of 20.